April 12, 2024

Elena Kagan, White House doctor

White House files show hand of politics in scientific discourse

Elena KaganAn interesting example of politicised science has emerged during
Senate hearings on Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Documents reveal that she doctored a draft statement on partial-birth
abortion by the American Council of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
(ACOG) while she was an associate White House counsel for the Clinton
administration in 1996. The documents, released by the Clinton Library,
include a memo,
a draft
ACOG statement
on partial-birth abortions, and a set of undated
in Kagan’s handwriting.

At the time, the
Clinton Administration opposed any restrictions on partial-birth
abortions which did not include health exceptions. ACOG asked the White
House for advice about how to describe its positions. Its draft
statement said that it “could identify no circumstances under which this
procedure . . .  would be the only option to save the life or preserve
the health of the woman.” This clearly undermined Clinton’s stand.

helpfully rephrased the statement. It then read: “A select panel
convened by ACOG could identify no circumstances under which this
procedure, as defined above, would be the only option to save the life
or preserve the health of the woman. An intact D&X, however, may be
the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to
save the life or preserve the health of a woman, and only the doctor, in
consultation with the patient, based upon the woman’s particular
circumstances can make this decision.”

Unsurprisingly, the
discovery of the documents has enraged the pro-life lobby. But Slate
columnist William Saletan said what concerned him most was that ACOG
consented to Kagan’s editorial assistance, and that subsequently her
additions were cited by the Supreme Court to allow partial-birth
abortions to continue. ~ Slate, Jul 3;
Review Online, Jun 29
; CNSNews, Jun 29

Jared Yee
politicization of science